The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke women's soccer's Michelle Cooper tabbed ACC Freshman of the Year; four Blue Devils named to All-ACC teams

Freshman Michelle Cooper scored six goals in her first six career games.
Freshman Michelle Cooper scored six goals in her first six career games.

 After their best regular season since 2017, four Blue Devils picked up All-ACC honors. 

The ACC announced its All-ACC teams Friday afternoon and, to little surprise to anyone, Duke freshman phenom Michelle Cooper led the way. Cooper was named the ACC freshman of the year and was selected to both the All-ACC first team and the ACC All-Freshman team. Graduate student forward Tess Boade and junior goalie Ruthie Jones were also named to the first team and junior midfielder Sophie Jones picked up a spot on the second team.

Cooper quickly established herself as Duke’s premier offensive presence this season, scoring six goals through her first six matches—the first player in program history to accomplish that feat. Since the graduation of Kayla McCoy in 2019, the Blue Devils have been missing an offensive centerpiece, and Cooper has filled that role this season, revitalizing the offense of a team so often defined by its defense. Despite missing three games in the middle of the season, Cooper sits at fifth in goals and points in the conference, with 10 and 24, respectively. Her 10 goals place her one shy of the Duke freshman record set by Kelly Cobb in 2011 and the Blue Devils still have the NCAA tournament to go. 

After being selected in the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League college draft, Boade decided to make use of her extra year of eligibility and she hasn’t wasted a moment of it. She’s turned in career highs in points, goals, and assists, while starting each game she’s played this season. Boade hasn’t shied away from a big moment all year, scoring the game-winner in Duke’s historic regular-season wins against North Carolina and Florida State.

Ruthie Jones played in just four matches her freshman year before winning the starting job in the second game of her sophomore season—the beginning of a breakout year. And in her junior campaign she’s only gotten better, picking up Duke’s first All-ACC nod for a goalkeeper since 2017. Her save percentage and goals against average both lead the conference, and her seven complete-game shutouts are good for second in the ACC. While the focus of the season has been on the offense, it would be a mistake to overlook the performance of Jones, highlighted by a number of acrobatic saves throughout the season.

For Sophie Jones, you would be remiss if you tried to quantify her impact using the season’s box scores. While she hasn’t (yet) picked up a point this season, playing slightly deeper in the midfield this season than last, her touch and passing remain second-to-none. A primarily defensive player, she often provides an initial spark to the potent Blue Devil offense.

Outside of Sophie Jones, who was named to the All-ACC first team last year, the other three picked up conference honors for the first time. Duke’s three players named to the first team are tied with Florida State for the most by a single team in the ACC.  

Discussion

Share and discuss “Duke women's soccer's Michelle Cooper tabbed ACC Freshman of the Year; four Blue Devils named to All-ACC teams” on social media.